WA premier confident as FIFO mandate looms

Mark McGowan says there is no indication the vaccine mandates will disrupt WA's FIFO workforce.
Mark McGowan says there is no indication the vaccine mandates will disrupt WA's FIFO workforce.

Western Australia's resources industry expects to avoid significant disruption from workers refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fly-in, fly-out workers are among those who must have received their first vaccine dose by Wednesday under wide-reaching state government mandates.

Mining giants Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group are among the employers which have tweaked rosters to ensure unvaccinated workers will no longer be on sites.

Others subject to Wednesday's deadline include WA police staff, prison guards, care workers and fire and emergency services workers.

Premier Mark McGowan says there has been no indication the mandates will cause major disruption, including among the 60,000-strong FIFO workforce.

"We don't have any great concerns at this point in time," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"If people choose not to get vaccinated, that's their choice and they, I suspect, will regret their choice in months and years to come.

"Overwhelmingly, people are getting vaccinated."

Chamber of Minerals and Energy chief executive Paul Everingham said the mining industry had operated safely and effectively throughout the pandemic.

"Anecdotal evidence in the lead-up to the 1 December deadline indicates the wide majority of the WA mining and resource sector's workforce is either already fully vaccinated or in the process of becoming so," Mr Everingham said.

"In the case of a worker not vaccinated by December 1, companies will work with them on a case-by-case basis in relation to their role and employment outcomes.

"There is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach to managing these situations and companies will manage each instance in line with their legislative obligations and employment arrangements with those people."

About 20 police officers have indicated they will refuse to get jabbed. They will be stood down on full pay but are ultimately expected to lose their jobs.

Mr McGowan said he hoped to learn more about the potential impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant at Tuesday's national cabinet meeting.

At this stage, it is not expected to change WA's plans to reopen its borders upon hitting 90 per cent double-dose vaccination in late-January or early-February.

More than 75 per cent of West Australians over 12 have now had two doses and the figure is expected to reach 80 per cent next week, at which point the state government will set a firm date for the removal of border restrictions.

Less than 40 per cent of Indigenous people in WA have been fully vaccinated.

"The Aboriginal communities' vaccination rate is actually climbing now, faster than the non-Aboriginal community, so that's a good sign," Mr McGowan said.

"What we want to do is get to very high levels of vaccination before such time as we open borders to the east or internationally."

Australian Associated Press